QSFer Pelaam has a new fairy tale retelling out:
Discovering there’s more to the disappearance of his childhood friend Snow than he thought, Nolen heads his team to investigate. His team includes the sexually charismatic Terrian, who’s an ex-lover, and Qamar, an empathic Aeriyan.
On the planet Ignis, they find the remains of the ship that had carried Snow, but no sign of the man himself.
While escaping a native predator, Nolen falls down a shaft that leads to an underground world. He finds genetically created miners and Snow, who has lost his memory.
While Snow and Nolen realise their love below ground, Terrian realises just who holds his.
Nolen is determined to get Snow home. That means ascending the shaft protected by a Guardian that was set by the Masters who also created the miners.
When Snow is badly hurt, Nolen goes for help, but will he be in time?
“I know we’re considered one of the best cold case teams, but this one…I think your old man is letting his heart rule his head.”
At the sound of the petulant voice, Nolen glanced up from the map he studied.
“You don’t have to be a part of the team, Terrian. We can always get someone else.” Nolen stretched and yawned. His long frame was stiff from bending over the circular table. He really had no time for negativity. He raised a quizzical eyebrow at the dark-haired man who was now regarding him like a hungry man would a prime rib steak.
“I never said I didn’t want to come.” Terrian ran a hand through his hair and then casually down over his chest. “I just think we’re wasting our time. The boy went missing two years ago now. Searches were made for his ship. Nothing was ever found. Not even debris. That ship had to have been captured by pirates.” Terrian shrugged.
“That was then. This is now. We have additional information, Terrian.”
Both of them turned at the newcomer’s well-modulated tones. Nolen smiled as Qamar entered, ducking slightly to avoid the top of the door’s frame. He didn’t miss the same look of hunger in Terrian’s gaze now directed at Qamar as he watched the tall, slender male head to the table.
“Nobody told me.” Terrian grumbled the words as he folded his arms and glared from Qamar to Nolen.
The ill-tempered tone to Terrian’s voice was one that Nolen knew all too well. As good as Terrian was at his job, he wanted to know everything, even the smallest of details. Sometimes his demanding nature was just too demanding–something Nolen had firsthand experience of in a more personal nature.
“The formal team briefing is tomorrow.” Qamar tilted his head at Terrian. “As you well know.”
The soft, melodic tones of Qamar’s voice held the tiniest, yet unmistakable, note of censure. Standing by him, Nolen, for all his height, still had to look up at him. He might be over six feet tall himself, but Qamar had another six or seven inches on him. Somehow, the sylph-like body seemed ethereal or intimidating, just by changes in Qamar’s voice or demeanour. The Aeriyan was an integral part of Nolen’s team as well as a much-loved friend.
Qamar ran his long, slender fingers over his naked skull and Nolen watched him fix Terrian with an amber stare.
“We have evidence the ship gave a false location when Huntsman called in the attack.” Qamar prowled around the table, pointing on the map to the areas he referenced. “We now believe that instead of heading towards the Gemini Space Station where they could reach safety, the ship was actually heading towards the Lamda Quadrant. The likely destination, if that is true, would have been Ignis.” He looked up at his audience.
“Ignis is still at the prehistoric stage of development. Giant plants, lizards, and insects.” Terrian’s brow furrowed as he brought to mind what he knew of the world.
“When dinosaurs ruled the world, Terrian.” Nolen smiled at Qamar, who tilted his head right, the alien’s equivalent of a nod.
“Indeed, my friend. I suggest that you retire to your room, Terrian, and attend the briefing tomorrow like the rest of the team.” Qamar indicated the door with an elegant wave of his hand.
“Retire alone, Qamar?” Terrian raised an eyebrow and gazed at Qamar as though Nolen no longer existed.
Recognising the sultry tone, Nolen’s cock stirred. Not so long ago, Terrian would have used those words, and that tone, with him. He almost laughed aloud at the incredulous look on his friend’s face.
Repeating the gesture, Qamar simply tilted his head. “Naturally.”
Nolen waited a minute to allow Terrian to leave and then went over to the door to check the other man had indeed left.
“He has his sights on you, Qamar.” Nolen turned to his friend.
“Understandable. He seeks a relationship where he believes it will not require fidelity, commitment, or true emotion. He knows that most of my people, when away from our home world, will have sexual liaisons with those not of our kind. That it is purely sex and nothing more. When we mate, however, it is for life. To him, I am simply an exotic and erotic challenge.”
“I should never have had a relationship with him. I don’t know why I did.” Nolen shook his head and sighed heavily. He had known it wouldn’t work and had gone ahead anyway.
“You needed companionship. You felt alone. He took advantage of you and you let him.” Qamar spoke in a matter-of-fact tone.
Even if Qamar was simply stating facts, Nolen didn’t want his friend to think that was all to the relationship he’d had with Terrian. “No he didn’t.” Nolen’s cheeks flamed with embarrassment. “I knew what I was doing.”
“He knew better.” Qamar made a clicking sound in the back of the throat that denoted his annoyance. “He knew you wanted more than he could give. I’m not saying he seduced you into his bed. Did he ever once call you by name? Or was it always something neutral that could refer to either sex?” Qamar gazed levelly at Nolen.
Listening to Qamar, Nolen sighed and nodded.
“I can feel how much you want to be loved and there are many out there that would be eminently suitable. Yet something drives you to be with those who aren’t. You knew that Dimitri was wedded to his job as an ambassador and had just three months left of his tenure here and yet you still started seeing him knowing it was headed nowhere. Terrian I can also understand. His insecurity in regards to a relationship that goes beyond the merely physical is almost palpable when I’m around him.”
“Does he know you are an empath?” Nolen asked. He was glad to be off the subject of his train wreck of a love life.
“No. As your father promised, it isn’t in my file. It’s not an advantage if people know. If he’s a good boy, he’ll find out.” Qamar gave Nolen a smile.
“What? I thought you had no interest in him.” Nolen’s voice almost rose to a squeak with shock at the suddenly predatory glint in Qamar’s amber eyes.
“I never said I wasn’t interested per se.” Qamar’s voice took on a deeper, richer tone. “Abandoned by his parents, treated as a slave by his adoptive family, an outcast in school for having no birth family, and being of overly-high intelligence, Terrian has issues. But they’re not insurmountable.”
Qamar’s wide grin showed thin, sharp teeth that seemed so at odds with his otherwise angelic appearance. It made Nolen shiver, but not with apprehension. He wondered how those teeth would feel nipping at his flesh.
“I am not suitable, Nolen, and I would always turn you down for just that reason, no matter my own desire.”
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Leaving in clean, green New Zealand, Pelaam is a multi-published author of gay romance and erotic books. When not busy writing she can be found indulging in her other passions of cookery and wine appreciation. Pelaam’s book “Breath of the Feathered Serpent” was a finalist for the 2014 Rainbow Awards in Gay futuristic/sci-fi. “Bedazzled” and “Firebird” were a combined finalist for the Rainbow Awards in Gay futuristic/sci-fi 2013. “On Dragon’s Wings” was best Fantasy 2014 with L R Café.